Mental health issues among college students have reached concerning levels in recent years fueled by adjustments to campus life, academic load, economic strain, mass violence, social injustices, and COVID related losses. What do administrators, faculty and staff need to know to support their students' mental health? And, how can institutions respond creatively to meet the critical need of providing mental health resources for their students? Below find eight stats about college students wellness and health needs. Read on for strategies institutions can adopt and adapt to help their students address mental health challenges.
- 60% of college students report feeling overwhelming anxiety
- 40% report experiencing depression
- 75% report experiencing stress within the past year
- 23% of college students report being diagnosed or treated for anxiety
- 22% report being diagnosed or treated for depression (all stats from American College Health Association).
- 3.5% of students experiencing depression dropout. The average dropout rate is 2.8% (Penn State’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health).
- 51% of students are less likely to withdraw from college if they participate in an extracurricular activity and experience decreasing academic distress during counseling (Penn State’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health).
- 120 students is the average annual caseload for a typical full-time college counselor, but some counseling centers average more than 300 students per counselor (CCMH Annual Report)
What Innovative Ways Are Colleges Addressing Mental Health Challenges?
Given the challenges of staffing and mental health needs, institutions are thinking creatively about how they can provide help to students. Here are some strategies being put in place that are providing students the mental health support they need:
Institutions are utilizing new approaches such as group therapy, peer counseling, and telehealth to address student mental health needs. Washington University and the University of Virginia are two schools using extensively trained peer mentors as a first line of support for students. At UVA, administrators are finding students are more comfortable reaching out to peers versus faculty or staff when they experience emotional distress. Learn more about creating peer support programs at your institution in this webinar on peer success coaching.
It is critical that institutions better equip faculty and staff to spot—and support—students in distress. Schools like the University of North Carolina are providing training to help their faculty and staff “recognize, respond, and refer” students who are demonstrating mental distress. Innovative Educators micro-credential “Recognizing & Supporting Mental Health Issues on Campus” provides online training, available at any time, and is appropriate for any college faculty or staff member.
Finally, many institutions are adopting and incorporating a broader culture of wellness into their policies, systems, and day-to-day campus life. Students at the Ohio State University helped develop a campus wellness app which includes resources for stress management, goal setting, and opportunities to connect with fellow students. Saundra McGuire provides strategies for students in this short presentation on student wellness and wellbeing.
To learn more about training your faculty & staff on recognizing and supporting mental health issues on campus check out Innovative Educators new micro-credential.
For nearly 20 years, Innovative Educators has assisted college leaders to build foundations of success for their faculty, staff and students. Institutions have seen employee engagement and retention increase as a result of utilizing Go2Knowledge, Innovative Educators live and on-demand professional development resources. Go2Knowledge includes 150+ live webinars and 350+ pre-selected, on-demand webinars delivered by over 200 experts. Innovative Educators micro-credentialing program provides faculty and staff opportunities to upskill and hone skills for working with today’s college students.
Overwhelmed: The real campus mental-health crisis and new models for well-being
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2022
Mental health in college populations: A multidisciplinary review of what works, evidence gaps, and paths forward
Abelson, S., et al., Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, 2022
Student mental health status report: Struggles, stressors, supports
Ezarik, M., Inside Higher Ed, 2022
Before heading to college, make a mental health checklist
Caron, C., The New York Times, 2022
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By Meg Foster
Online Learning & Design Specialist - Consultant